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His heart is preserved in the museum of the above hospital.
At the battle of Salamanca, on the 22nd of July, 1812, a round shot, probably fired at the colours of the Eleventh Foot, took the heads off the two sergeants posted between the colours, and of a black man who beat the cymbals in the band, and who was in rear of them, without injuring either of the officers carrying the colours. Ensign Scott, one of the officers, was, however, afterwards killed.
Mr. Larpent had a narrow escape at St. Fé, in December, 1813, from being shot through the head by a dragoon, as he was writing. The ball went between his pen and his nose, and where his head had been two seconds before; one cheek was spattered by the door splinters, and the other by the wall-plaster where the ball struck. This gentleman was attached to the head-quarters of Lord Wellington, as Judge Advocate-General, during the Peninsular war, from 1812 to its close, and his private journal was edited by Sir George Larpent, Bart., and published in 1853. His personal intercourse with the Duke, and the on dits he records, make the work very interesting, as will be seen by the extracts introduced in these pages.
It is remarkable that the Duke of Wellington passed through so many battles unhurt; he had a narrow escape at Orthez. In Larpent's Journal, speaking of this battle, it is remarked that "it was curious that Lord Wellington and General Alava were close together when struck, and both on the hip, but on different sides, and neither seriously injured, as the surgeon told me who dressed them. Lord Wellington's was a bad bruise, and skin was broken. I
fear his riding so much since has rather made it of more consequence, but hope the two days' halt here will put him in the right way again, as all our prospects here would vanish with that man.”
"I walked down to the bridge with Lord Wellington yesterday (6th March, 1814), and found him limp a little, and he said he was in rather more pain than usual, but it was nothing. At dinner yesterday, he said he was laughing at General Alava having had a knock, and telling him it was all nonsense, and that he was not hurt, when he received this blow, and a worse one, in the same place himself. Alava said it was to punish him for laughing at him."
In "Recollections, by Samuel Rogers," recently published, there is a remark of Wellington's in allusion to the above circumstance :
"The elastic woven corslet would answer well over the cuirass. It saved me, I think, at Orthez, where I was hit on the hip. I was never struck but on that occasion, and then I was not wounded. I was on horseback again the same day."
According to popular belief, the Duke of Wellington also had an escape at Salamanca, as mentioned at page 97.
Surgeon De Lisle, of the Fourteenth Foot, has recorded the following remarkable circumstance during the operations against Sevastopol :-On the morning of July 24th, 1855, private Francis O'Brien, a lad of eighteen, was brought from the trenches with a wound from a musket ball in the right temple. It entered about two inches above the orbit, passed downwards, and drove out a large portion of the supra-orbital ridge, which appeared to be imbedded in the upper
eyelid, and was cut down upon by the medical officer in the trenches, in mistake for the ball, which it certainly very much resembled. As no ball could be found, it was supposed to have passed out at the opening of entrance.
The finger, when passed into the wound, could feel the pulsation of the brain; yet, from that day to the present, no symptom of cerebral disturbance has appeared, unless it be that, since his convalescence, the muscles of the face work convulsively when he feels faint and weak from remaining too long in the erect posture. About a month after admission, the detached portion of the bone above the orbit was removed from the eyelid, though with considerable difficulty, and on the following morning the ball fell from the wound, much to the poor lad's horror, who thought his eye had dropped out.
Both wounds have now been healed, but he is unable to raise the right eyelid; the eye is perfect, but apparently without power of vision, though sensible to the stimulus of light; for, on turning the wounded side to the light, the left pupil contracts. His general health is good.
One of the most singular wounds, perhaps, ever received and not to cause immediate death, is the following; the account is extracted from the report of the Medical Board on the officer in question :
"Lieutenant French, of the Thirty-eighth Regiment, received a gunshot wound on the 18th June, 1855, before Sevastopol, in the upper portion of the left shoulder, which penetrated the chest, and resulted in a most copious suppuration from the left side, with compression of the left lung, and removal of the heart
from the left to the right side. The left arm is powerless, and his general health very delicate, the suppuration from the left lung, though considerably diminished, not having yet subsided." He died on the 9th of December, 1857.
Major Sir Thomas Troubridge, Bart., of the Seventh Royal Fusileers, now Colonel and Deputy AdjutantGeneral to the Forces (clothing, etc.), while commanding in a battery at the battle of Inkermann, was desperately wounded by a forty-two-pound shot, and the following operations had to be performed :— The left foot was removed by Syme's operation, and. the right leg amputated below the knee. He was placed under chloroform twice for the operations, a few minutes elapsing before giving it the second time. Both feet were much injured, the bones of the left foot being completely smashed, with great destruction of the soft parts, insomuch that the flap had to be formed from the cushion of the heel. This gallant officer now walks well, aided by a stick, and strangers would scarcely know that he had been so severely wounded. Lieutenant (now Captain) Owens, of the Thirty-third regiment, who was standing close by Sir Thomas, had the calf of his leg carried off by the same shot, and has suffered severely ever since, the wound never having healed.
Sir Charles Napier's life is one justifying Lord Byron's remark that truth is stranger than fiction. In infancy he was snatched, when at the last stage of starvation, from a vile nurse; when a young boy, attempting a dangerous leap, he tore the flesh from his leg in a frightful manner; a few years later he fractured the other leg. At the battle of Corunna,
he received five terrible wounds, and, but for the aid of a generous French drummer, would there have been killed; he was made a prisoner, and his fate being long unknown, he was mourned for as dead by his family. In the battle of Busaco, a bullet struck his face, and lodged behind the ear, splintering the articulation of the jawbone; yet with this dreadful hurt, he made his way, under a fierce sun, to Lisbon, more than one hundred miles! Returning from France, after the battle of Waterloo, the ship sunk off Flushing, and he only saved himself by swimming to a pile, on which he clung until a boat carried him off, half drowned, for the pile was too large to climb up; he had caught it during the recession of a wave, and was overwhelmed by each recurring surge. He escaped cholera, and a second shipwreck off the Indus, and marvellously recovering from the stroke of a rocket at Kurrachee, was again firm on horseback, and conducted a dangerous war to a glorious termination.
On the 13th September, 1842, whilst in Scinde, he was observing the practice of a rocket-train, when one of the fiery missiles burst, rocket and shell together, and tore the calf of his right leg open to the bone; but neither the bone itself nor the great artery was injured, and the wound was instantly stitched. This account is gathered from the History of the Conquest of Scinde, by his brother, Lieutenant-General Sir William Napier, the author of the "Peninsular War."
This list might be extended, but it is conceived that sufficient is here narrated to form a remarkable page in the "Curiosities of War."